It’s 2020, so there are a lot of ups and downs that come with that but I have to say that 41 has been an excellent year. A few highlights:
- TEENAGERS: Holy Teenagers, Batman! We have three at the moment, plus Ava, who is 10. This has been one of the toughest experiences of parenting for us. That thing they tell you, about how teenagers brain lobes disconnect and start to reform? It’s true. Our very intelligent little ones are going through a phase of impaired judgement, obliviousness and challenge. I don’t think I do well with it. Katrina is, as always, more level headed about things and more sensible. I’m easily frustrated and have little patience with them.
On the flip side, the kids are becoming little adults. They’re developing their interests, their skills and their life experiences. Anders worked at Noodles for quite a while and technically still does, but has recently started working at McDonalds. It’s kind of funny because I worked at McDonalds when I was 17 too, but apparently just about everything is automated nowadays. He is currently in Atlanta, visiting Xan and family (my brother’s family) since they recently moved back from Mexico City. Anders will be attending the MTECH Web Development course this year in addition to his 3 or so high school classes, which means he’ll graduate with some excellent skills that will help him land a great job.
Addie (15) joined a summer swim league and I think she generally enjoyed it but probably wasn’t as into it as some. Not sure if she’ll want to actually join the swim team this year. She’ll be a sophomore as of next week. Crazy. She’s full grown now and is the same height as Katrina. She’s a talented artist and is infatuated with broadway musicals, just like Aani. They have memorized “Hamilton” and several other plays. Addie has several good friends but is also as content as can be to sit at home all day and read, play Animal Crossing or watch Avatar: The Last Air Bender (for the umpteenth time).
Aani is 13 and also loves musicals, Animal Crossing and playing with friends. She’s more social – like Anders – and is our spender. She asks us to buy things for her constantly and is always the first to suggest that we go out to eat, go somewhere nice or “just buy it”. To her future husband: Make lots of money. She’s going to want to spend it. 🙂
Ava, 10, is still in that wonderful, helpful, doesn’t hate her parents phase of life. She wants to go with Katrina and I wherever we go and is often first to volunteer for things. She joined Westlake Cheer this year since her tumbling teacher moved away. She’s actually at Cheer camp right now and seems to really enjoy it. When we ask her to do something she says “OK!” in an upbeat, cheery tempo. It’s pretty great. She’ll be in 5th grade this year.
- GOODBYE, DAD: Probably the most notable change in my 42nd year was the passing of my Dad. He’s always been a role model for me and someone I have looked up to all my life, right until the end. I’ll miss him terribly but will be forever grateful for the years we had together. I’ll even miss his corny jokes. I’m happy he’s no longer suffering. The cancer was rough on him but he surpassed all expectations and did an amazing job fighting. Eventually, it was time to let go. He passed on December 28th, 2019, at the age of 71.
- THE BIG 20! Katrina and I celebrated 20 years of marriage in April, which means that we’ve been together for 23 years now. It’s a milestone anniversary and, if you can believe it, I still love being married to this woman! With all of the divorce, cheating and general discontent amongst couples that we see today, we’re incredibly grateful to have each other and to spend any time together that we can. We love hanging out. We date each other very regularly and we have about 241,000 inside jokes. We laugh together, we cry together and we generally agree on how to raise these kids of ours, even if we don’t know exactly what to do in each situation. We had hoped to go to London or somewhere fun for our 20th but coronavirus put the kibosh on that so we’ll see what we can do when things get a bit more normal. I can still very honestly say that everything is better when it’s with her.
She was furloughed from her job at Dry Creek Physical Therapy back in March, which was somewhat voluntary since the kids were now home 24/7 and she wanted to be there to help out. She has been reading a lot and helping out with the YouTube fun as well. She’s the compassionate service leader in our ward, which has been a fairly up and down calling for various reasons.
- GROWING OLD: Our 40s have shown us several challenges and it’s true that the body just isn’t what it used to be. I went from never having had surgery 2 years ago to now having had three surgeries (including skin cancer and my most recent surgery – a deviated septum surgery). Katrina and I have daily reminders that we’re aging. Foot pains, kidney pains, injuries from working out, on and on and on. I sit most of every day so that doesn’t help. Katrina works out 5-6 days a week still, which boggles my mind and unceasingly impresses me. We’re both very fortunate to be in generally good health. I can still go run a 5k anytime I want, even if I haven’t exercised in 3 months. I’m gaining weight but I’m managing to stay under that 200 lb mark, which is my threshold for change.
- CORONAVIRUS: Despite corona, it’s been a good year. Corona means I don’t have to spend 2 hours each day driving to and from work, which is incredible. I love it. Working from home very much agrees with me. I miss my colleagues at work and several things about it but I would be content to stay home all day every day forever. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated office room and all I need to be comfortable there. I typically wake up about 5-10 minutes before my 7 am meetings and have taken a liking to showering at night to facilitate the “just-in-time” wake up routine. YouTube earnings have been strong despite, or perhaps because of, the epidemic. More people are probably doing DIY projects at home. I still have a good job, which I’m incredibly grateful for, and there doesn’t seem to be very much risk in losing it at this point. Nothing is for sure, of course.
The hardest part for Katrina and I has been trying to keep the kids from becoming full on zombies, especially back when nobody was leaving the house for months at a time and everyone was so cooped up. It’s like we had a six month summer vacation. Needless to say, we’re very ready for the kids to head back to school, which they’ll do a week from today (happy dance!).
- CHURCH: It’s been super weird not going to church. We just went to sacrament meeting for the first time a couple of Sundays ago after a five or six month hiatus. We’ve been ok with the home church, honestly, but it’ll be good to get back sometime. Come, Follow Me has been great for our family. We’re not amazing at always doing it but we’re pretty regular and it’s been a positive experience for all. The older teens don’t say much at all. Aani volunteers to answer most every question. We take turns leading the discussion each day and that helps. I still serve as the Elders Quorum President and it’s made 100x easier because of my excellent counselors and secretaries. They do a lot and really help out. I’ve been a horrible minister to my ministering families so I have some changing of ways to do there. I’ve found that the lack of church and calling activity forces you to be more self-driven when it comes to your daily habits.
- BEAR LAKE: We visited Bear Lake this summer (just got back last week) and experienced riding Jet Skis (first time for me and the kids) and a side by side (6-seated four wheeler – first time for all of us) going through some pretty gnarly trails. There was also a lot of sunburn, heat, S’mores and yummy food.
- SOUTH DAKOTA: We took a trip to South Dakota and saw some pretty great sights. We saw Mount Rushmore, which was on Katrina’s bucket list. It was cool to see but not amazing. We visited the badlands, which was pretty cool and did a bit of hiking there. We also visited Devil’s Tower in Wyoming which was one of the highlights of the trip. It was an amazing thing to see and surprisingly large. I was able to bring my newly acquired Sigma 60-600mm Sport lens. It’s sort of a monstrous thing but it has sparked my passion for photography anew. It’s awesome to be able to get right in on distant objects and also to get some excellent wildlife shots. We drove through Bear Country USA which was really fun – it’s basically a drive-through zoo. At the end you can walk around and see several animals but the highlight was the baby bear cubs, which I got some great shots of. The whole trip was fun and went smoothly.
- SIX CARS!: We currently (and embarrassingly) own six vehicles. Yes, 6. We didn’t aim to do this, but we ordered a Kia Telluride for Katrina back in December and in June thy called And said they’re not selling 2020 Tellurides any longer so they would cancel our order and we could order a 2021 model in a couple of months. We opted not to do that and then a couple of weeks ago Katrina saw a top of the line Telluride on the Auto Source website that had been totaled so it was selling for way cheaper than new since, though now in perfection condition, it had a salvage title. You literally can’t buy these cars in their top trims – they’re just not available, so to find this one was really lucky. We pounced on it and got it. We call it Moby 6, because it was like the white whale that was so elusive and it was our sixth vehicle at time of purchase. With that, we say goodbye to Pam, our 2013 Toyota Sienna, as well as the age of sliding doors and minivans. Katrina has been feeling like it’s high time to move along and the Telluride is by far the nicest vehicle we’ve ever owned, and we didn’t have to buy it new and pay full price. Yay!
Speaking of our evolution of cars, I now own a full size pick up truck. I have been working from home for the last 5 months and will for the foreseeable future so I don’t really need a commuter car anymore and I have increasing need for a reliable pickup truck with the projects I’m always doing. Our 1995 Pickup was continually having clutch issues. I replaced the slave cylinder, then the master cylinder, then bled the lines and still no dice. It would work for a day or two and then give up again. We decided it was time to sell the 2015 Accord (a wonderful car that we bought as a salvage title from Auto Source) and get a new pickup truck. I ended up buying a 2014 Toyota Tundra from… you guessed it – Auto Source. It’s a 1792 edition, which is their top trim so it’s as nice as a Tundra can be. It’s large, terrible on gas and all kinds of capable and nice. We call it Thirsty.
So now we’re trying to sell Kit and Pam – our Accord and Sienna. Selling cars is the worst and I see why people do trade-ins but they offer so little! Anyway, hopefully in a couple of weeks they’ll both be gone.
- OC TANNER: Work at OC Tanner continues to go well. It’s honestly a real challenge in many ways because I’m in meetings all day most days and I often feel like I’m caught in the middle of the whole “product vs engineering” arguments. That said, we’re making great progress on our project – the new Commerce catalog for our clients. It’s in use by several clients now and it’s fun to see the progress. I took my second trip to India in the spring and it was pretty cool. This time we did some sight seeing and enjoyed seeing Agra, the Taj Mahal, The Red Fort, Hyderabad (where our team is) and even a short stint in Chennai. It went smoothly despite being one of the last trips anyone could take before Covid-19 set in fully. We were literally getting emails while we were there saying that all travel is banned, so that was fun.
Speaking of India, they decided to have our India team, which I’ve been heavily involved with, finish up the Commerce project so our US team will move on to other projects. That means I wont’ be in my same role this time next year (probably long before that) so we’ll see how that all shakes out. OC Tanner is pretty great though, and they basically said they’ll work with me to help me find the best role for me, even if that’s not as an Engineering Manager. The sad part about all of this is the break up of the team. I have an awesome team that has gotten better and better over the last couple of years and we really enjoy working together. Every member of the team works hard and is committed to success. It’s a great group of people that I’ll miss working with.
- YOUTUBE: Lots of changes here. I started a second YouTube channel called the 3D Printing Zone and it’s going well. I only have about six videos but it’s up to 21,000 subscribers and over a million views. I also started a third channel just this last week called Buy This Not That. It’ll be a channel where I compare products against one another and do reviews. It opens up our possibilities to any products – home goods, tools, printers, you name it. LRN2DIY continues to do really well. Better every month generally. We’re now up to 320,000 subscribers and I honestly think we’ll hit a million in the coming couple of years. We’re entering the slowest season of the year right now – late August through October – so we’ll see how that goes. I spend a lot of time on it and have a lot of fun with it. I bought a used 2019 27” iMac 5k recently with 80GB or RAM (yup… 80!) and it’s a work horse. I love it. So nice to be able to airdrop footage from my phone over to it and to even use my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to do Photoshop on it using Sidecar. I suspect next year’s post (Forty-Three) will contain some major updates here.
- SUMMARY: 41 has been good to me and my family. We’re blessed in 1000 ways and I expect 42 to be similar. Let the good times roll!
And now, the (many, many) photos, completely out of order:
^ A Golden Eagle fighting with a crow over a prairie dog near Devil’s Tower
I think this is the last photo with the family and my Dad.
Photo from today – Katrina and I at the Salt Flats.
Filming of my 3D Printed Bulletproof Stormtrooper Armor being shot.
Photo from the Badlands.
Pip’s first time swimming – Bear Lake
Beautiful Southern Utah – I believe this was Dead Horse Point
Fog over Utah Lake (drone shot)
Disneyland in February
Prairie Dogs in South Dakota
A herd of sheep that got out of their fenced area and started coming into our yard. I had to guide them home.
Aani and Addie at an Orchestra concert. Aani plays the violin. Addie plays the viola.
On a walk with the girls.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Hands down my favorite part of Disneyland
Getting ready for church while traveling
Riding the Snake River
The very talented Addie’s artwork
Nerdy me and my nerdy wife on Halloween
Sometimes we force the kids to not use screens and they actually get creative.
The produce section at Smiths toward the beginning of the pandemic.
Riding a side by side by Bear Lake
The top of Mount Timpanogos with Ava!
Working from home has its perks!
The Disneyland gangstas
Team lunch at PF Changs
Aani trying out my new lens
Wild monkeys in Agra
Spidermanses at the Corona Arch
Needles Forrest in South Dakota
Another day at the office!
A big blonde bear at Bear Country in South Dakota
The day of my Deviated Septum surgery
A cute little squirrel at Devil’s Tower
I finally finished the deck, the pergola and some shade.
Axe throwing with our friends, the Jensens
A very distant shot with the 600mm lens
S’mores with Uncle Shiloh and Uncle Brian plus Indie and Tenzin
One day the girls thought it would be funny to dress like country girls.
Anders doing some woodturning on our new lathe
The traditional Luke 2 story as reenacted by the grandkids
Anders has had a rough driving year. 3 accidents and 2 dents. Here’s the first big one.
Taj Mahal with the work crew (Me, Rob Clausing, Ben Norris, Ash Roberts, Sarah Williams)
Progress on the pergola
Ava’s ice skating birthday party
My new Sigma 60-600 sport lens
Needles State Park
After we shot up the bulletproof helmet, we teamed up with the water jet channel to cut it open.
My last photo trip with my Dad
Kids trying out the chess board I made for Uncle Shiloh and Uncle Brian
Family Photos 2020
Bear cubs at Bear Country
GrandPar crisping the top of some Creme Brule
One of the photos I took with my Dad on our last adventure
May this be the last time that we have six vehicles
That time I dropped my drone in a river and was able to recover all of it but the camera, which I had to replace.
Me and my boo at the Park City ski jumps
Fun with cousins at Cornbelly’s
Anders and I saw several Jazz games in their 2019 season
Near Corona Arch
My new (to me) Tundra after plast-dipping the chrome
At work with Sabina, Jonathan and Lakshmi
Our new 2020 Kia Telluride on the salt flats
Anders and I at the Snake River